A Definition of Faith: Seeing What Isn’t There

A Definition of Faith When I was a young pastor I offered definition of faith to a class full of children. I used everyday occurrences to help illustrate. We have faith at night that the sun will rise again, and we have faith that when we sow a seed that it will grow into a plant. My definition of faith for them was even though we don't see something now we believe it will still come to pass. Now that I'm older though I feel I might have done these kids a disservice giving them the most … [Read more...]

Living a “Double Portion” Life

Asking for a Double Portion? We've spent the last several Sundays with the mighty prophet Elijah - his celebration of power and his learning in weakness. As we approach this Sixth Sunday after Pentecost (Year C), we find one more Elijah story  - that of his leaving this earth (2 Kings 2). I've mentioned before how much I loved stories of Elijah when I was a child. This one really captured my imagination - the chariot of fire, the whirlwind from heaven, Elijah being swept up into glory. I almost … [Read more...]

“It Is Enough”: The Prophet Elijah Quits!

Trials of the Prophet Elijah Elijah is easily one of the most impressive prophets in the Hebrew text, known particularly for his mighty and miraculous acts of power. As a child I always enjoyed reading about Elijah - how he revived the widow's son and gave her never-ending jars of meal and oil; how he absolutely soaked an altar with water and called down the divine fire to lap it all up; how he even escapes death by being caught up in a chariot of fire, delivered directly to God. No doubt, … [Read more...]

What Lies Within: Breaking the Alabaster Jar

  Bringing the Alabaster Jar This week the lectionary gives us some pretty challenging passages. We have the story of King Ahab's great sinfulness from 1 Kings 21, and King David's murder of the faithful Uriah from 2 Samuel 11-12 (which further results in the death of an infant.) It is easy when we are reading these passages to develop a rather jaded impression of the people in the Bible. Even the heroes are not all that heroic, making many mistakes and even sinning outright. We might … [Read more...]

The Widow’s Cake: Magic Baked Right In!

The Widow's Cake: Expecting a Miracle Recently I asked my husband if he believed in magic. I watched as a smile slowly creeped across his face. Clearly he thought this was a trick question. But it wasn't - I really wanted to know. We had been talking about our household finances. His approach is one of classic fiscal responsibility. He carefully notes what we're expecting to earn and calculates that against our expenses. He's regularly creating and recreating budgets so that we'll have enough … [Read more...]

Proving the Path – And Doubting Thomas Shows the Way!

Proving the Path: And So We Begin Resurrection is now a fact of our lives. It's important for us to understand that this is the true nature of resurrection - not restoration to what once was, but moving forward into something we've never seen before. There's no way for us anticipate what is coming next, or prepare for it. Our only option is to move ahead and find out. Most of us can probably attest to the fact that life is full of on-the-job training experiences. We might read a parenting … [Read more...]

Leaving the Tomb: Finding Our Brave New World

Easter Morning At Last! For those of us who have journeyed through the ever-darkening days of Lent, Easter comes as a breath of fresh air, a burst of sunshine. Finally we can set aside the darkness of death and bask in the glory of resurrection! It might be surprising to us, then, to note the confused and uncomprehending responses of Jesus' own disciples when they find the tomb empty. The Gospel of John shows us Mary Magdalene encountering the empty tomb with panic and grief, Peter and the … [Read more...]

The Crying of Stones: Palm Sunday

Palm Sunday: Our Final Passage We've made it to our final Sunday in Lent. Soon we will leave behind this beautiful, tragic Lenten walk and find ourselves at the foot of the cross. In this moment, though, the crucifixion seems far off. As Jesus enters Jerusalem to the shouts of the crowd, he appears to be a great favorite of the crowd - even a king, as they proclaim him. There is no suggestion here that the crowd will reject him or abandon him. Right now they seem to be on "Team Jesus." It's … [Read more...]

Don’t Know What You Got Till It’s Gone: A Sermon for Lent

Don't Know What You Got Till It's Gone: The Prodigal Son This Sunday - the Fourth Sunday in Lent (Year C) - we get to spend some time with the Parable of the Prodigal Son. I can probably say nothing new about this parable, which has been the inspiration for so many books and works of art. In fact, I'm not even going to try! What I will do, though, is focus on the one piece of the parable which speaks to me most right now: the blindness of the beloved. The younger son somehow feels that he's … [Read more...]

Reach Exceeding Grasp: Understanding Death as Victory

Reach Exceeding Grasp: Beyond What We Can Do In past seasons of Lent I've found myself skirting the whole "dust-to-dust" teachings. I've focused my attention on repentance, or deepening my spiritual practices, or being more conscious of working for social justice. This year, though, I'm taking a course led by Fr. Thomas Keating, which focuses on death. I've always thought of death as the at-best unpleasant, at-worst terrifying moment when everything fails us, and we collapse into the Mystery … [Read more...]